Cluster headaches are characterised by a sudden excruciating pain on one side of the head around the eyes, temple or cheek, and can last for 20 minutes to 4 hours. Affecting 0.2% of the population - mainly men - they recur over a period of weeks or months before disappearing, hence the name.
A research suggests that this cluster headache could be due to abnormalities in the brain.The finding could revolutionise approaches to all primary headaches, which had not been thought to be caused by factors in the physical structure of the brain. But using a new scanning technique, doctors have established that cluster headaches are likely to be caused by excessive growth of grey cells in one part of the brain.
By using the latest imaging techniques, Professor Goadsby and colleagues found an increase of grey matter in an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus on the side where the headache occurs.
Professor Goadsby said: "We also found that the area of the brain where these structural abnormalities were seen, the hypothalamus, is the same area of the brain where functional studies show that activity is abnormal during the headache state.